Words by Stephanie Theobald
Yesterday, to a packed theatre in Los Angeles, the co-founder of the world's most famous home rental company, Brian Chesky, made what he called the 'biggest announcement to date.'
As well as being able to book stays in people's houses around the world (currently choosing from over three million homes across 191 countries), you will now also be able to book 'immersive experiences.
From a tour with Nelson Mandela's prison guard and cook in Cape Town to a surfing trip with a local Californian dude to a truffle-hunting workshop with an Italian expert in Tuscany and a running session with a cool London jogging group, Airbnb fans will now, Chesky claimed, be able to live even more like locals.
Conversely, if you are bored with your 9 to 5 job, you too can set up your own tailor-made experience from a walking tour to a shopping trip or a cookery trip and become what Chesky calls a 'micro entrepreneur', allowing you to work fewer days in your conventional job and make money out of your hobbies and passions.
The new service is called 'Airbnb Trips', and is initially being rolled out in 12 cities including London, Paris, Florence, Cape Town, Havana, San Francisco and Los Angeles, Miami and Detroit, Seoul and Nairobi and Tokyo.
Airbnb people are also being offered the possibility of meeting up with like-minded travellers in a variety of 'Meet-Ups', so they can learn insider secrets and local tips about the city or town they have chosen to stay in from real people, as opposed to just being advised what to do as has been the role of traditional guide books.
Locals from food bloggers, nightclub owners and drag queen performers will curate their idea of a great night or day out so that travellers will feel less like tourists and will be assured, Chesky claims, of having an experience usually reserved for people living in that city.
Chesky concluded that 'travel is not about what you do but who you become,' and is in keeping with the company's philosophy of democratising travel, and its slogan, 'Belong anyway.'
Users will soon also be able to book restaurants, hire cars and book flights through the Airbnb app.
We can't wait .